• All
  • Articles
  • Videos
  • Plants
  • Recipes
  • Members

How to Maintain a Worm Farm

Comments ()  |   |  Text size: a A  |  Report Abuse  |  Print
close

Report This Article

How to Maintain a Worm Farm

Reason for flagging?

Comments

Submit

Share:    |  Email  |  Bookmark and Share

Overview

Worm farming is an easy method for turning kitchen scraps into vermicompost and has added benefits. For instance, anglers like the consistent availability of good sized bait specimens for fishing adventures. Starting out a worm farm is the most labor intensive part of the process, since it requires the initial setup of worm bins, locating the best area to keep them and gauging how much to feed them. Learning how to maintain a worm farm after the initial setup ensures that your hard work was not in vain.

Step 1

Rely on your thermometer to measure the temperature of the worm farm area. You may have chosen to set up your worm bins in the basement, garage or outside; the changing seasons also bring changing temperatures and healthy worms require a temperature range between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It is true that the worms may be able to tolerate extreme temperatures as low as 40 or as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but this should be the exception rather than the rule. Red worms in particular thrive in the temperature range between 55 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, but you may see mortality rates rise when temperatures reach the 84 degree mark.

Step 2

Maintain bedding at a pH level of 7.0 by testing it frequently. Acidic (bedding with a pH below 7.0) and alkaline conditions (bedding that measures higher than 7.0) could impede the health of your worms. Commercial worm farmers prefer the neutrality of a 7.0 pH level. Depending on the kinds of worms in your farm, they can withstand some variation. For example, earthworms survive in bedding with a pH level ranging from 4.2 all the way to 8.0. Correct acidity by adding ground egg shells or limestone.

Step 3

Turn over the top layer of bedding with your shovel. Repeat this process every seven to 10 days. This prevents the byproducts of vermicomposting and the infusions of moisture from spray or food scraps from packing down the material and encouraging the growth of anaerobic bacteria. You do not need to dig much deeper than six to eight inches.

Step 4

Move the worms to a fresh bin every six to nine months. This allows you to completely clean the initial worm bin and prepare fresh bedding for the next time that they animals need to change homes. In the alternative, you could merely put the worms into a holding container, change out the bedding and then return them to the original bin.

Step 5

Protect your worm farm from predators. While it is highly unlikely that birds or gophers will attack a properly maintained worm farm, insects that prey on worms can slip in through the smallest cracks and ventilation holes. Look out for ants, centipedes and mites. Usually the kitchen scraps attract these insects and they then stay for feasting also on the worms. Visually inspect the area surrounding your worm farm and remove attractants as well as visible pests.

Step 6

Control the size of your worm population. Cutting down on food heightens competition between the worms for the nutrients and reproduction goes down. Increase the amount of food you place on the bedding, and as competition over food goes down the amounts of egg capsules and new worms increase. Unless you want to run a second worm farm, maintain the number of worms you started with by allowing food controlled breeding to make up for dying specimens.

Things You'll Need

  • Thermometer
  • pH Testing kit
  • Hand shovel
  • Second worm bin (optional)
  • Bedding

References

  • Texas A&M Univeristy Extension: Home Worm Production
  • Australia's Department of Environment and Conservation

Who Can Help

  • Washington State University, Whatcom County Extension
  • Penrith City Council
Keywords: red worms compost, worm farming composting, raising worms for composting

About this Author

Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.